Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Real Pain in the Gas: Hour 16 on 24

A Real Pain in the Gas: Hour 16 On 24

By Victor Lana

 

There was a rather interesting, almost pastiche quality to last night’s episode, featuring sexual harassment, torture, dumb cops, a poorly guarded public utility, and one tender moment for Jack and Audrey. Most importantly, Jack was allowed to show his sensitive side in a brief scene, which is always good for the segment of the audience that thinks Jack is just a cold hearted machine. See, the writers are telling us, Jack really has an Alan Alda inside that Bruce Willis fa├žade.

After bringing Pistol Girl back to CTU, Jack already knows in his heart that Audrey can’t be guilty, but he is forced to go through the motions by that Homeland Security woman, Cruella Mean-To-Bill. Meanwhile her lackey has some back story with Edgar’s replacement, Twitchy Girl, who is more nervous than Barney Fife trying to get the bullet out of the shirt pocket. Chloe doesn’t like Twitchy Girl because she’s taking Edgar’s place, but she tells her story of woe to Chloe who eases up a bit. Hey, those girls have to stick together, right?

Burke is ready to jab needles into Audrey faster than an aging Hollywood actress getting Botox, but Jack is not having it. He has already interrogated Audrey in his own way, and he found out she slept with Walt Cummings (but only once because, hey, he wasn’t my stud Jack) and that Audrey couldn’t possibly have compromised security because he has thrown a table, choked her hard, and ascertained that despite her sexual indiscretion that she is not guilty. Of course, she’s the daughter of macho Secretary of Defense Nuts Landing who would allow no such thing anyway. Unfortunately, Jack is tasered (I was waiting for this because he gets tasered at least once a season) and Audrey is dragged off to experience Burke’s method of Q&A.

Once Jack recovers he talks Cruella into letting him have another moment with Pistol Girl if he and Chloe can find something to show she violated her immunity agreement. It’s amazing how Jack can spring back from these moments of physical pain, but lets not forget he was trained by Robo Henderson who was able to withstand Burke’s best stuff and is now driving around the city despite a curfew.

Meanwhile, Jerko Bierko and his men have commandeered a police car (in what perhaps is one of the stupidest moments ever on 24.) The cops in this car must have known there was a curfew, right? Yet they go down a dark alley and put themselves into a precarious (and ultimately deadly) position to break up a fist fight? They never call it in? No suspicions? Well, that’s just handy dandy as Jerko now has a “police escort” to the gas utility where he intends to send the Sentox into the homes of thousands of unsuspecting people.

Jerko gets into the gas utility as easy as I walk into Sears, and the next thing we know it he has Helmet Dude working for him (after knocking off a few engineers). Helmet Dude has to lower the PSI (I know, that show is on another network with that red haired guy who quit NYPD Blue), in order for the Sentox not to be neutralized by the gas in the system. Jerko and his men are now watching the clock tick and think they’ve got the world by the baseballs.

Our loyal friend Costner (the super Secret Service guy) has left the comfort of the funny farm ranch (where we see no signs of President Lowguns and Lady MacDeath, who might be locked in each other’s arms hoping to make it to Hour 24) to look for Palmer’s brother Wayne. Costner gets in a little gunplay with the bad guys and finally rescues Palmer in a swift move. We know the President’s brother has some deep dark secret, no doubt about yet another bad guy who is a mole.

Jack finds that Pistol Girl and Robo Henderson had an extensive relationship, so this somehow invalidates her immunity deal. He knocks out her guard and then gets the gun in her face. Jack really is looking bad (that taser didn’t help), and it seems he will pop a blood vessel at any moment. Pistol Girl gets away pretty easy after telling about the gas utility (I was hoping Jack would at least shoot her in the leg like Henderson's wife), and Chloe is able to find the facility rather quickly because Twitchy Girl was a chem major and knows about lowering the PSI and all that “blah, blah, blah.” Chloe is impressed and yet Twitchy Girl reveals that Bill touched her inappropriately while thanking her for a job well done ( but we all know Bill is just a good guy who doesn’t have a hand problem), so now Chloe knows Twitchy Girl is just plain nutso.

Jack and Curtis take a helicopter to the gas utility and start shooting it up with Jerko’s men. Jerko still manages to launch the Sentox, but Jack and Helmut Guy figure out that it can be stopped if the tanks are blown before the gas goes out and brings less than good things to life. Jack just happens to have some trusty C-4 plastic explosives in his bag of tricks, and he sets the timer and starts running like a Jack Rabbit (I couldn’t resist). The bomb goes off, everything explodes, and Curtis is ready to fly away but Jack sees Jerko and goes after him.

Jerko and Jack mix it up (this is one thing I’ve missed in recent seasons, with Jack actually getting to bop around the big bad guys or kill them directly like Victor Drazen in Season One) as Jerko tries to flee in the cop car. As the world seems to explode, Jack tries to drag Jerko into the car and drive away, but all we see is flames and falling debris. How many lives does Jack have left? We’ll find out next week.

Once again we have an exciting, really edge of the seat kind of hour on 24 that is not found anywhere else on weekly television. The Shield on F/X comes close to this kind of almost mini-movie feel, but there is really nothing else like 24 to be found (I apologize to fans of Lost, but I stopped watching that last year because it "lost" my attention).

There are eight episodes left, and I am expecting much of this will involve the bad insider at the White House (could it actually be that weird Vice President Potato Chip?), and we know that Robo Henderson has some tricks left up his sleeve.

Until next week, Klaatu Barada Nikto!